In double game, Qatar plays Brotherhood and Houthi cards in Yemen

Reports of increasing activity of Qatari associations in Houthi-controlled areas to provide cover for financial and intelligence support.
Thursday 08/10/2020
A file photo shows tribesmen loyal to Houthi rebels in Sana'a. (AFP)
A file photo shows tribesmen loyal to Houthi rebels in Sana'a. (AFP)

ADEN - Yemeni political sources have pointed to the recent emergence of a new factor in the course of the Yemeni crisis in relation to Qatar’s meddling role.

In addition to using the Muslim Brotherhood inside the legitimate government to escalate the situation in Yemen, Doha is increasing its political, media and financial support of the Houthis.

According to Houthi media sources, the authorities in Doha have recently received the Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Ajri in his capacity as the Houthi ambassador to Qatar, at a time when information indicated that the Qatari embassy in Sana'a will soon be re-opened, even though informed sources have previously indicated that intelligence and financing activities at the embassy have never stopped since the Houthi coup in September 2014.

Houthi media sources had revealed that a United Nations airplane had transported the new Houthi ambassador from Sana'a to Damascus, which observers considered an indication of the Houthi penetration of the activities of the international organisation and of the bias of some of its employees towards the Houthi militia.

Diplomatic sources expected that the coming period of the Yemeni conflict will witness an escalation at all levels and the transfer of confrontation from the fronts to other areas that may include a full-blown economic, financial and communications war, in addition to an expected diplomatic war against the backdrop of the suspicious Houthi activities in the region and the world, which are carried out with logistical support from Iran and Qatar.

Observers described the Qatari role in Yemen as going through a new turning point in light of the messages sent by Doha regarding its intention to raise the level of support provided to the Houthis, and to direct its cards in the “legitimacy” camp to confuse the Arab coalition’s work and thwart its efforts to implement the Riyadh Agreement and end the conflict in the anti-Houthi camp.

Informed sources confirmed to The Arab Weekly the increasing activity of Qatari associations in Houthi-controlled areas to provide cover for financial and intelligence support. Yemeni media people also spoke of directives being issued to Yemeni channels funded by Qatar to refrain from any criticism of the Houthis and to focus all media discourse on the Arab coalition, the Southern Transitional Council and the joint resistance forces.

Observers considered that Doha, which worked to establish a number of media channels broadcasting from Istanbul and manned by Muslim Brotherhood cadres, is now working to redirect the political orientation of the Qatari-funded Yemeni media tools to be in line with the Houthi camp, in the context of its policy of using contradictory positions that serve to ensure the survival of the Iranian project in northern Yemen and prepare the ground for Turkish intervention in the southern provinces, where Turkish intelligence activities under the umbrella of humanitarian work have increased.

The sources expected the Qatari role in the next phase to expand to using the card of the militia that Doha has funded under the cover of the Yemeni “legitimacy” to target the Arab coalition and other anti-Houthi components, such as the Southern Transitional Council and Brigadier General Tariq Saleh's forces, through the Popular Mobilization groups established by Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Taiz. Shabwa and al-Mahra, with the aim of redirecting hostility towards the Arab coalition countries and moving from conducting a political and media war to the stage of direct military targeting.

In this context, activists and media figures from the Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood launched an attack against the Saudi ambassador to Yemen, Muhammad Al Jaber, against the background of the role he played as a representative of his country in the efforts to form the next Yemeni government that Doha and its current in the legitimacy camp see as a threat to their influence.

On the ground, the Yemeni National Army forces made progress in Al-Jawf governorate after they were able to regain the Al-Khanjar camp, which fell earlier in the grip of the Houthi militia. Observers, however, said that recapturing the camp was not crucial because the real aim of the Houthi plan is to capture the nearby Marib governorate. The Houthis have already brought in significant reinforcements for that purpose during the last period.

Fighters from the Murad tribe, backed by members of the army and air cover from the Arab coalition forces, have managed to thwart the Houthi militia’s major attack. The Houthis had previously taken advantage of the state of confusion in the ranks of the Yemeni army and took control of a number of districts south of Marib on the borders with al-Bayda governorate.

According to informed sources, Muradi tribesmen launched counterattacks on the Houthi militia in the Al-Rahba and Mahliya districts, after they had stopped their advance, which was aimed at controlling the Al-Jouba district.

These recent military developments coincided with renewed confrontations south of the city of Hodeidah and the Duraihimi district, which witnessed the fiercest confrontations between the joint resistance forces and the Houthis since the truce between the two parties after the signing of the Stockholm agreement in late 2018.

Observers consider that the recent military escalation in Marib, Al-Jawf and the western coast of Yemen is an indication of the unwillingness of the Yemeni rivals to accept the comprehensive settlement that the UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths is seeking to market and eventually pass through the UN Security Council.